The Little Red Cabinet of Tears: The Impact upon Treatment Providers of Bearing Witness to Torture
A licensed clinical psychologist and expert witness in asylum legal cases involving torture, Okawa recounts two different forms of witnessing: that which the therapist performs in listening to survivors’ stories, and that which she offers as an expert witness who translates torture into legally and culturally legible testimony. Beginning with an account of her feelings of inadequacy in addressing the needs of survivors, Okawa charts the complex personal and professional development that shifted her approach to her work. These strategies underscore the work of therapy as socially situated, and the relationship between survivors and their health-care workers as a process of dynamic exchange that shapes them both. In her essay, Okawa dismantles any simple binary oppositions between victim and therapist, suffering and health, and pain and the wider medical, legal, and cultural worlds in which it circulates.